One in 10 female football fans in Manchester say they play football every day

Almost five in 10 women in Manchester play football at least a couple of times a week, with one in 10 saying they play every day.

It also emerged that over seven in 10 women agree there are more female role models in football now than when they were younger – with almost a third (32 per cent) said that the visibility of more female role models in football is the best thing to support the sport at grassroots level.

Another 43 per cent said they were watching the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 tournament.

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    The research, which was commissioned by Volkswagen before the tournament, also revealed that former Arsenal right-back and current pundit Alex Scott MBE has been voted the most inspirational figure in women’s football.

    This comes as four aspiring young football fans have described the experience of a lifetime as they took centre stage at this year’s UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 as referee mascots on the pitch in Manchester.

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Takeaway.com Official Match Ball Carrier and Volkswagen Official Referee Mascot during the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 group D match between Belgium and Iceland at Manchester City Academy Stadium on July 10, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

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    An 'amazing atmosphere'

    Zoe Stevens, Olivia Barnes, Beatrice Sherlock and Lucy Sumner were among many keen young football fans who signed up to be referee mascots via their local Volkswagen retailer, Inchcape Manchester. 

    All four girls walked with the referee on to the pitch and stood nearby while both national anthems took place. 

    Their experience kicked off for the Manchester trio at the England v Austria match at Old Trafford where Zoe Stevens was the mascot and England got off to a flying start with a 1-0 win.  

    Zoe Stevens, 9, from Ashby said: "It was the best day of my life.  

    “I loved walking out onto the pitch in front of 69,000 people and the cheer as we went out.  

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    “The whole day was fun and I found it really inspiring because I want to be a footballer when I'm older.”  

    Olivia Barnes was mascot at the Belgium v Iceland game, while Beatrice Sherlock took centre stage for Italy v Iceland and Lucy Sumner was mascot for the Italy v Belgium match.

    Beatrice Sherlock, 10 from Wilmslow, said: “I have always loved football and have been a lifelong fan of Manchester City football club for both the Men’s and Ladies team.  

    “I absolutely loved being a mascot at the Euros, the atmosphere was amazing as I stepped onto the pitch. I will never forget such a memorable experience.” 

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 06: Players Mascot during the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 group A match between England and Austria at Old Trafford on July 06, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

    Pursuing football passions

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    The opportunity was opened to young female players aged 8-10, who had the chance to stand on the pitch and also received two additional tickets to watch the match.  

    Girls from across the country also took part, with a mascot at all of the 31 matches between July 6 and July 31.  

    Sarah Cox, Head of Marketing for Volkswagen UK said: “It was a privilege to host some of the country’s most passionate young football fans as referee mascots at UEFA Women’s EURO 2022.

    “As well as a hugely eventful tournament, we’re still buzzing from the stories we’ve heard from our mascots.

    “We hope that the tournament continues to inspire young women to pursue their love for football, and we know our mascots will take away memories that will last a lifetime.”

    Results from the poll also highlighted other big names in sport such as USA star Megan Rapinoe and vice-chairman of West Ham FC, Baroness Karren Brady.

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    Sarah Cox said: “Undoubtedly following the momentous victory of the Lionesses, the game will continue to grow and inspire women and girls for years to come. Of course, we’ll see this list of inspirational icons get bigger and bigger.”

    England's heroic Lionesses made history at the weekend, with a 2-1 win against Germany at the Women’s EURO 2022 final at Wembley Stadium, attracting a record 87,192 spectators.